The Panthera Pardus, better known as the African leopard, is one of the most sophisticated and powerfully built hunters of the African jungle.
Among all the other wild big cats, the leopard is arguably one of the most gorgeous because of its unique print. Compared to the tiger, lion, jaguar, and cheetah the leopard is slightly built and smaller compared to the other wild cats in the Panthera family.
Leopards can be found across sub-Sahara Africa and Asia. Their skin color varies between individuals, ranging from dark golden to pale yellow.
Dark spots scarred across its body are grouped into rosettes. The belly is whitish in color and its tail is ringed with dark patches.
Leopards Jump to Super Heights and Are Excellent Athletes
Leopards are as fast as a flash, clocking speeds of up to 60 km per hour. This is super fast – although the cheetah runs faster, of course. They are also great leapers, able to leap up to 6 meters horizontally and 3 meters vertically.
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Female Leopards Are Excellent Mothers
Female leopards have a gestation period of 3 months and can give birth to two or three cubs. Mothers will stay with their cubs until they are around two years old when they are old enough to take care of themselves.
The mother will leave her cubs in secret hideaways, in dense bush or up trees before she goes off to hunt for food.
Leopards Are Secretive And Like Solitude
As a leopard ages, it eventually becomes more solitary and territorial. They like to roam in one specific area away from other animals, and prefer keeping to themselves most of the time. They will only interact with other leopards when they want to mate. Leopards mark their territories with urine or scratch their claws on tree barks.
What types of leopards live in Africa?
The main branch of the leopard family is called Panthera pardus. The African leopard is classified as Panthera pardus pardus.
Before the 21st century, there were also dozens of sub-species for the African leopard based on the region where they lived. For example, the Zanzibar leopard was known as Panthera pardus adersi while the Somali leopard was called panthera pardus nanopardus.
After looking at genetic samples, however, scientists decided that all of these subspecies were the same. They all had the same chromosomes. So they reshuffled the scientific classifications.
Some Leopards Develop A Melanistic Skin – Commonly Known As Black Panthers
Black panthers are melanistic leopards, melanism being an inherited genetic trait. They occur commonly only in equatorial forests, notably in the Malay peninsula and – in Africa – on the slopes of mountains such as Mount Kenya and Laikipia regions. Interbreeding in melanistic leopards produces a significantly smaller litter size than with normal leopards.
Leopards Are Nocturnal
Leopards are nocturnal animals and prefer to spend their nights venturing out in search of food. These majestic cats can see seven times better in the dark than humans.
They mostly spend their days resting in trees or in caves.
Female Leopards Like To Tease Males For Mating
Female leopards have a special game plan when they want to invite a male to mate. The female leaves a scent on the trees in her territory by rubbing her body against them, so that male leopards can reach her by following her scent or hearing her mating call.
What do African leopards eat?
African leopards have a diverse diet. They’ll eat everything from beetles to baboons, and they aren’t afraid of large prey. They’ll go after animals that are much heavier than them, including giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and wild boars.
Male Leopards are Usually Larger
Males are usually much larger and stockier and have a significantly bigger head and paws compared to females. Male leopards can weigh up to 198lbs (90kgs), with females around 132lbs (60kgs).
A Leopard’s Tail Is Used For Balance
A leopard’s tail is almost as long as its body. The longer the tail, the better they can balance themselves when climbing a tree. The leopard also has very powerful claws that can help it climb a rough straight cliff just like a human would rock climb.